Friday, July 10, 2015

FFB: Star Science Fiction No. 2 -- Fredrik Pohl, Editor

I picked up this 1953 anthology to read a story or two and found myself zipping right through it.  It's the Good Old Stuff, as you can see from the names of the authors on the cover.  I'll put the complete ToC down below.

You're probably familiar with some of the stories already, certainly with "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, which became more famous as a Twilight Zone episode than it did as a story.

Alfred Bester's "Disappearing Act" could have been written last week, it seems to me.  It's a commentary on war and security that would fit right into today's world.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Clinic" is about love, as are a lot of Sturgeon's stories, and as in many of them, it's a somewhat different kind of love.  I may have said before that of all the authors we met at various conventions, the one who impressed Judy the most was Sturgeon.  She must have seen in him something of the quality of stories like this.

I'm not going to say more about these stories, except that they range from the competent to the very good.  Nothing classic, but everything entertaining and professional.  I'll just mention that Richard Wilson's story reminded me very much of Clifford D. Simak, and if someone had told me that Simak wrote it, I'd probably have believed it.

Pohl's introductions to the stories are just as interesting as the stories themselves, and nearly every one of them told me something I didn't know about the author.  If you run across a copy of this book, grab it.  Or buy a copy.  Cheap ones abound on the Internet.

Disappearing Act by Alfred Bester
The Clinic by Theodore Sturgeon
The Congruent People by Algis Budrys
Critical Factor by Hal Clement
It's a Good Life by Jerome Bixby
A Pound of Cure by Lester del Rey
The Purple Fields by Robert Crane
F Y I by James Blish
Conquest by Anthony Boucher
Hormones by Fletcher Pratt
The Odor of Thought by Robert Sheckley
The Happiest Creature by Jack Williamson
The Remorseful by C.M. Kornbluth
Friend of the Family by Richard Wilson


George Kelley said...

Great choice! The more I think about it, I think Fredrik Pohl was the greatest SF editor ever. I know John Campbell gets plenty of respect and so does Donald Wollheim. But Pohl published some incredible stories for a long, long time.

Unknown said...

The first anthologies in this series were terrific.

Todd Mason said...

And Pohl was the most protean of editors/agents/movers and shakers in the field...his longest term was as de facto editor of the GALAXY group starting about 1958, official editor by '62 and while turning some of his duties over to Judy-Lynn Benjamin/Del Rey by the end, still at it till 1969. And then there were all the earlier projects such as STAR, and the later ones such as being the editor who published Joanna Russ's THE FEMALE MAN and Samuel Delany's DHALGREN at Bantam Books in the 1970s.

My "anchor" book for the still-emerging essay I'm writing is primarily a Pohl anthology, today.

Todd Mason said...

The later STAR anthologies (and the one magazine issue) didn't have the advantage of Pohl the super-agent selling himself stories for the highest rates in Ballantine's fortunes were contracting in the latter '50s, even as Pohl's literary agency was collapsed, from being too far ahead of itself in trying to offer its writers advances before actually selling manuscripts.

Todd Mason said...

Did Judy ever read Sturgeon's work? He was famously charismatic...if a bit hard to live with, I gather.

Unknown said...

No, she never read a thing by him. Which is surprising, in a way.

Rick Robinson said...

stories sound familiar, I'm sure I've read almost all of them one place or another. Still, a nice collection to have and read. I'll keep an eye out for it.